Stress and Switching Off…

by Leisa on July 23, 2008

With stress being the causative factor in so many degenerative health conditions, part of my philosophy on healing is to lower and manage stress through various techniques.

I talk to people about the benefits of regular exercise in stress reduction, we talk about resolving and working on the emotional aspects of stress, we can look at using herbs and supplements that support our body and help us adapt to stress – but one tool that I think is essential, is meditation.

Now when I say that to most people, they have a vision of having to sit cross legged on the floor, eyes closed, and “OM” for a half an hour while the mind races and reminds us of all the other things we could be doing.  For most people this style of meditation doesn’t suit, and causes more stress that it relieves.

There are many people who do have the discipline and interest to study and learn these type of techniques, such as Transcendental Meditation, yet for many of us, we try, we get bored,  and we’re not really that interested.  We may practice that style of meditation for a while, and then we give up and move on.

Because the benefits of meditation are so numerous – physically, mentally and spiritually – it is important to include in out lives – but we need to find a style of meditation that suits us, and that doesn’t mean sitting cross legged on the floor.

All sorts of practices can move us into that meditative state, where our mind has switched off and we have a heightened but peaceful awareness and connection.  Often that comes doing something we love that we are so focused on that we lose the racing mind and enter another state.

I realised that yesterday when I spend some time with some horses – my mind was still, I was immersed in what I was doing, and I was definitely in a meditative state for quite a while.  When I had finished with the horses I felt rested, alert, energetic and very calm.  That is the state that helps us be healthy, and the more often we can access that, the better for our stress levels.

So meditation doesn’t have to be a cliche.  We can find that meditative space doing all sorts of things – surfing, horse-riding, gardening, walking in nature, yoga – often it will be found when you are doing something you love.

Being healthy doesn’t mean we have to do things that are difficult that we don’t enjoy just because we think they’re good for us.   Happiness keeps us healthy, and if we are aware of what brings us to a peaceful, joyous space, then that is what we need to do.

I know I’ll be spending a lot more time with horses – what is that you will do?



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Dr B July 24, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Regarding the “meditative state”: There’s no activity that can accomplish the same thing as the Transcendental Meditation technique. A hike or run through the forest, sitting on the banks of a stream, relaxing with a good book at the beach — these are pleasant, restorative pastimes that can allow the mind to step out of its habitual boundaries. Shifting the attention from its habitual focus can be refreshing, healing and restorative, especially when the shift is toward greater freedom or beauty. These are all necessary and enjoyable activities. Yoga postures, when done properly, can invigorate the body and the mind, but even yoga asanas are another activity — and activity must be balanced with rest.

It’s rest that most powerfully rejuvenates — not more activity. We’ve all had the experience of finishing up a harried month at work to escape on a dream vacation, only to return 10 days later more tired than when we left.

For increased dynamism, for consistently richer and more inspiring perception, for more generous and nourishing relationships, rest must become deeper. If we want to accomplish more and enjoy more, to be more and give more, we must rest more deeply, more efficiently, more completely. If we want a life of growth and expansion, expressing more of our inherent potential, then our daily activity must be balanced with deeper, more efficient rest.

The TM technique is an effortless, natural process that allows the mind to move inward from the conscious, active, surface level of ordinary experience, through incremental steps to the more refined, refreshing, nourishing levels of mind at the very source of thought. This experience also brings deep, rejuvenating rest to the body, as so many scientific studies have shown. Enjoying this experience everyday does much more for our health and wellbeing than a walk in the woods or another great fishing trip. And as filmmaker David Lynch says, diving within to the source of creativity is how you catch the big fish.

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